By James Hold
[Copyright 2016 James Roy Hold
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AMY, A BULL
Alone on a hill surrounded by acres of farmland stood a magnificent black bull. Tall and powerfully built, his hide shone like polished ebony. His head was large, his horns rounded, and his nostrils broad and flaring. He was, by all counts, a creature to be admired and respected.
Only he was not admired. Nor was he respected. Not by his fellow farm animals anyway. And all for the silliest reason.
Hours after he had been born, the farmer showed the newborn calf to his six-year-old daughter. The little girl took one look at the tiny creature and immediately insisted on calling the calf “Amy”.
“But, Ellie,” the farmer corrected her, “this is a boy calf, not a girl. You can’t give a boy calf a girl’s name.”
But stubborn little Ellie refused to give in. The day before she had learned the word “amiable” in school, and to her mind, it seemed a perfect name.
“He’ll grow up to be big and friendly,” she told her papa, “and everyone will like him.”
So “Amy” it was.
Now as far as the farmer, his wife, and little Ellie were concerned, “Amy” was good a name as any. The other farm animals, however, thought otherwise.
“Amy!” they laughed. “Are you kidding? What’s a boy doing with a girl’s name?”
“We should fix a wreath of flowers for him to wear around his neck,” the chickens cackled.
“Maybe Mrs Farmer can give him some of her makeup,” the dog howled
“Let’s get him a dress while we’re at it,” the donkey brayed
Everyone made fun of the poor little bull calf with the unfortunate, ill-thought name.
Except the cat. Cats are more or less indifferent when it comes to names. This is because cats are more or less indifferent to anything that does not directly affect their existence. Still, in the early days, while Amy was small, the cat would play games of tag with him, Amy lowering his head close to the ground and the cat tapping his wet nose with her soft furry paw. Then, when both had tired, the cat would curl against Amy’s side while both napped in the sunshine. But such things cannot last. As Amy grew larger and more powerful, it became too dangerous for the cat to play with so large a creature and, over time, their friendship faded. Even little Ellie, once so fond of him, spent less time with him, as she too grew older and found other things to amuse her.
So Amy kept to himself, alone in the green pasture, with little streams of tears running down his big brown eyes.
Days and months passed and, in time, Amy’s loneliness turned to bitterness. The magnificent black bull grew mean and angry, and none of the farm animals could go near him. If any approached his hill, he chased them away with much snorting and pawing of hoofs. If they wanted to make fun of him, then he did not want anything to do with them. And that was how it stayed.
Until, one night, a great storm arose, with dark skies, crashing thunder, and much water; water that filled the lowland area around the farm, and the only place of safety was the hilltop where Amy held control. In desperation, the farm animals fled their barns, their stables, and their coops and raced for the hill to escape the rising floodwater. But, as the animals approached, Amy recalled the many times they had mistreated him, making fun of his name, and excluding him from their company. So Amy circled his hill, chasing away all who approached. And, while they were many, and he was but one, the angry bull’s ferocious nature was enough to keep them all at bay.
“Please,” the animals begged him, “share your hill with us before we perish in the rising water.”
Amy looked down on them with contempt as the smaller animals pushed to the front of the line, water about their feet, while the taller ones kept to the rear with the water up to their bellies.
“Why should I share my refuge to spare any of you?” he asked them. “All you ever did was mock and ridicule me—because of a silly name which I acquired through no fault of my own. For that, you would have nothing to do with me. So now I want nothing to do with you. Find sanctuary elsewhere, if you can. Survive the rising waters if you are able. But as for me I am happy enough without you!”
But then, above the wind, the thunder, and the rain, Amy heard a soft meow. And, looking down, he saw his playmate from long ago: a poor, rain-soaked mother cat with three kittens huddled at her feet. And from somewhere in the deep dark recesses of his hardened heart Amy remembered those early days when he and the cat romped together playing tag.
“Even you,” he told her. “Even you, my only friend, abandoned me to loneliness.” And it was only because of the raindrops falling on his face that he was able to disguise his tears.
“I am sorry,” the mother cat apologized. “I did not mean to hurt you. It is just that I grew up quicker than you, and I had to do grown-up things. But won’t you, please, for the sake of a friendship that once was, allow my poor kittens to share your hill? They are small and innocent and had nothing to do with the pain I caused you.”
The mother’s tearful appeal penetrated the bull’s hardened heart. Without another word, Amy backed away, allowing the others to scamper up his hill, there to be safe until morning from the danger below.
The next spring brought a new addition to the farm family. The farmer drove into the pasture in his pickup and from the cattle trailer behind it, let out a young Jersey cow for Amy to see.
“Hey, Amy,” the farmer called to him. “I know you’ve been lonely lately so I bought someone to keep you company.”
Amy took one look at the young Jersey and it was love at first sight. Her fawn colored hide and soft brown eyes set his heart a-flutter.
“Hello,” Amy began shyly. “My name is—”
“I know,” the Jersey interrupted. “Your name is Amy. I think it’s a nice name, and it fits you well because you are amiable toward others.”
“I wasn’t always that way,” the bull confessed. “But that was a long time ago. By the way, what is your name?”
The beautiful Jersey looked at the ground, hesitant to speak. “It’s Mao,” she said finally. “Mao the cow.”
“Mao!” Amy started to say. “What’s a girl doing with a boy’s name?” But then he remembered how he had been teased over his own name, and he stopped himself. Instead he said, “Mao’s a nice name,” and let it go at that.
“The man who owned the farm where I was born let his son name me,” Mao told him. “He was studying history at the time.”
Not long after that Amy and Mao had a son of their own. Thankfully, the farmer’s daughter was not around and so the calf was given the sensible name of “Angus”. In the days that followed, Amy and Mao relaxed happily on their hilltop, looking on as the mother cat’s three kittens played tag with their son. Someday both Angus and the kittens would outgrow each other and go their separate ways. But for now, all was well. Because Amy the bull had learned that, even after those days had been and gone, good times, tucked away in fond memory, can still bring a sigh of joy when brought back to the surface.
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